BOWKER CREEK BLUEPRINT IS A BEACON OF INSPIRATION: “All these people are my teachers, and I am learning from all of them. Is this the intergenerational baton in action? Absolutely! You cannot just pick up the baton and not know where you are coming from. You need all that history,” stated Lindsey McCrank, the Capital Regional District’s Coordinator for the Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative

Note to Reader:

Bowker Creek originates at the University of Victoria on southern Vancouver Island and flows for 8 km through three municipalities – Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay. The creekshed is completely urbanized. The impervious area coverage is 56%. Over 30,000 people reside in the surrounding creeks.

Released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in conjunction with BC Rivers Day in September 2021, A Beacon of Inspiration: Bowker Creek Blueprint and 100-Year Action Plan is a short history of building bridges of understanding from the past to the present and future. It is a story of local government champions and community leaders who share a vision, embrace shared responsibility, and are bringing Bowker Creek back to life.

In A Beacon of Inspiration, the Partnership tells the “story behind the story” to showcase the history and evolution of the Blueprint process over the past two decades. The storyline is structured in three parts. The first two cover the past two decades. The third part comprises interviews with current players who are collaborating to set a direction for the second decade of Bowker Blueprint implementation.

Presented below is the interview with Lindsey McCrank, Coordinator for the Bowker Creek Initiative (BCI).

Carrying the Intergenerational Baton Forward

The Capital Regional District  has the coordinating role for the Bowker Creek Initiative (BCI). The three municipalities co-fund a part-time coordinator. In 2005, the partners agreed that having a dedicated part-time coordinator was the most important factor in consistently moving the Bowker process forward over time.

In 2020, Lindsey McCrank joined the CRD and assumed the BCI Coordinator responsibilities just as the BCI was about to embark on the next phase of the Blueprint journey. Hence, her perspective takes on relevance when viewed through the intergenerational lens.

“As I reflect on my first year in the BCI Coordinator role, I feel very much like I am a student of the creek. I am looking to lots of teachers who are so knowledgeable and with so much history. The community members are incredibly inspiring with the energy that they bring to the group. Some people might volunteer as a hobby. With the BCI group, however, their volunteering seems key to their values and is such a deep part of their lives. I find that really inspiring,” stated Lindsey McCrank.

A Shared Commitment

“It is almost like you get goose bumps at the BCI meetings because people are so committed to the creek. It is the focus of all their efforts. At the BCI table, the municipal representatives set aside their other inter-municipal differences. They want to work together. This is a big reason why we are successful. There is a shared commitment to the creek that is very strong.”

“All these people are my teachers, and I am learning from all of them. Is this the intergenerational baton in action? Absolutely! You cannot just pick up the baton and not know where you are coming from. You need all that history.”

“A prime example is Ian Graeme. As the founder of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, Ian Graem was the catalyst for community-based action. After retiring from government, he has returned to the BCI table as a valued member. As a result of his return to active duty, I have realized that Ian has a huge amount of expertise. His approach is thoughtful, respectful, and diplomatic with his suggestions. It has been great to have him as part of the group again.”

Moving Towards “Bowker Blueprint 2.0”

“Along with the community members, the commitment of all three municipal partners is also inspiring to observe and experience. Municipal staff are so supportive of the Blueprint vision, and all three Councils are in the process of recommitting to the Blueprint and the implementation strategy for stream daylighting.”

“Now, as the BCI prepares to embark on the second decade of implementation, the partners are excited when they contemplate what a fresh set of actions comprising Blueprint 2.0 would look like. In particular, there is lot of talk and considerable interest around the greenways aspect of the Blueprint. And, of course, daylighting continues to be a big focus for our current efforts.”

Community Volunteers are Sharing the Workload

“There is so much momentum. It is just a matter of harnessing the energy and being able to keep things moving when the time allocation for my Coordinator role is limited to one day per week. Community members are really stepping up to take on additional responsibilities and fill gaps – for example, a community volunteer (Susan Haddon) is helping to develop and assist with implementation of the vitally important BCI Communications Strategy. This is the type of volunteer commitment that makes such a difference to the success of the BCI over time.”

“I am hoping that as we move forward with the new pieces – the greenways and Blueprint 2.0 – the momentum will just keep building. Built into those processes is communication with everyone. I anticipate the knowledge transfer process will just keep going and I will be absorbing it as best that I can. Eventually I hope that I am the person that others will come to with their questions about the Bowker history, where we have come from, and where we are going.”

“If we just stopped here, I could see our energy fading. We have accomplished the majority of the 10 key actions from the first Blueprint. To keep us energized moving forward, the focus will shift because the world is in a different place – for example, there is more emphasis on greenways and climate adaptation. These will have more of a focus, as will stream daylighting.”

“These new pieces of interest and information will go into Blueprint 2.0 and shift our course a little bit for the better,” concluded Lindsey McCrank.

To Learn More:

The Bowker Creek Blueprint is a 100-year action plan to peel back the pavement, daylight an historical creek, and restore nature within the Victoria urban region on Vancouver Island. The intergenerational commitment by so many players is inspirational.

A Beacon of Inspiration is the 10th in the Partnership’s Watershed Blueprint Case Profile Series. Because there is no equal to the Bowker Creek Blueprint and the intergenerational 100-Year Action Plan, the intent is that this “story behind the story” will have lasting value as a legacy resource for the Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative. The Partnership’s hope is that others will be inspired by the Bowker experience.

To read the complete story, download a copy of A Beacon of Inspiration: Bowker Creek Blueprint and 100-Year Action Plan.